Indiscriminate use of pesticides is troublesome in our environment, creating toxic soils, groundwater, ponds and lakes, and oceans. Application of chemical pest control results in the death of many insects. These toxic chemicals interrupt entire ecosystems, causing havoc on pollinators such as bees and other beneficial insects, birds and animals as well as humans. It has been estimated that about 2.5 million tons of pesticides are used on crops each year, and that the worldwide damage caused by pesticides reaches $100 billion annually. This paper summarizes the results found in the scientific literature and highlights the fact that secondary metabolites of plants are involved in the interaction with other species, primarily in the defense response of plants against pests. These secondary metabolites sometimes called botanicals represent a huge reservoir of chemical structures with pesticidal activity largely underutilized in modern times compared to the industrial scale seen with chemical pesticides. There are several advantages of botanical pesticides including fast degradation by sunlight and moisture or by detoxifying enzymes. The target-specific nature and lower phytotoxicity of these botanicals have prompted researchers to investigate more in depth the mechanisms of action and structure-activity relationship of these botanicals in order to evaluate their potential as a viable pest management system. Higher plants produce a diverse array of secondary metabolites, which include phenols, terpenes, alkaloids, lignans and their glycosides. This variety of active compounds plays a significant role in the defense mechanisms of plants, and potentially offers a more sustainable platform to develop structural prototypes in order to identify lead molecules/products that can eventually serve as new environmentally friendly pest control agents. Alternative green methods of pest control are found in essential oils as single or multi component preparations. The positive results in repellency and killing of predatory insects proved to be both safe and biodegradable and have a broad spectrum of applications with no re-entry time. Essential oil pest controls are widely used in organic pest management practices globally, and the emerging market reflects steady growth in agriculture, home and garden, equine, livestock, turf, pets and more. Moreover, new fields of business, research and development for understanding the complexities of plant-based oils and their benefits can be created.
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